HOUSE NEWCOMER Freshman lawmaker in the fire: Garcia Richard takes heat from both sides over license bill

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Posted: Friday, March 15, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 1:29 am, Sun Mar 17, 2013.

For many Roundhouse regulars, whether New Mexico would stop issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants wasn’t a major question during this year’s legislative session. Even the advocates on both sides of the issue privately seemed to acknowledge the votes weren’t there to repeal the current law.

But for one freshman lawmaker, dealing with the issue has been an intense experience. Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos, who campaigned in favor of repeal last year while wresting away a legislative seat long held by Republicans, found herself pressured by fellow Democrats and skewered by Republicans over her votes.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Jimmy Green posted at 10:57 am on Mon, Mar 18, 2013.

    Evil_J Posts: 145

    it's because she's a member of the wrong party. wrong for citizens, wrong for workers, wrong for fiscal responsibility, wrong for NM, wrong for the country. Jump Ships! We'd love to have you!!

    PS: isn't this new posting forum fantastic? Dead links, 404 errors, re-directs... The whole electronic site took a giant leap forward. and what is this im signed into? What happened to disqus? Now i have yet ANOTHER log in to ANOTHER site when everybody else is on disqus. Fantastic.

  • mla_ca posted at 9:47 pm on Fri, Mar 15, 2013.

    mla_ca Posts: 1

    Good point Khal! I saw the interview on KRSN and was kind of shocked by the interviewers. Not that they were being rude, but rather that they simply seemed very obtuse! Almost as if they were incapable of having an intelligent interview.

  • Khal Spencer posted at 9:02 am on Fri, Mar 15, 2013.

    Khal Spencer Posts: 418

    If both sides are mad at Rep. Richards, she is probably doing a good job.

  • B H posted at 10:32 pm on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    pajaritomt Posts: 5

    Stephanie Garcia Richard did not break any campaign promises regarding the undocumented driver's license bill. She stated clearly to me, while running for office that she didn't think undocumented workers should be given driver's licenses in their current form. She felt something different was more appropriate. I did not discuss it with her further, but I disagreed with her mightily. But she stuck to her view.
    And that is exactly how she voted in committee in the House. Susanna Martinez keeps trying to pick a fight with her on the issue, but I can't see what the Governor is griping about. Ms Richard voted as she promised me she would and up until now she and the Gov are on the same page on that issue.
    Maybe the Gov just doesn't like the fact that Ms. Richard defeated a Republican party favorite Jim Hall? i can't say, what her beef is, but I can't see how the Gov can find fault with the way she voted on the driver's license issue.


Key issues facing lawmakers


Backdrop: New Mexico gained only 1,700 jobs during the past year ending in November. That's a growth rate of 0.2 percent and the lowest in the region. New Mexcio's unemployment rate was 6.4 percent in November compared with 6.7 percent a year earlier.

Proposals: Gov. Susana Martinez proposed expanding programs that can help bring nurses, dentists and other medical providers to rural areas. She also wants to provide $7.5 million for an endowment fund to attract top porfessors and researchers at colleges and universities. The governor recommends broadening tax incentivies to encourage startup companies as well as research and development. Democrats are pushing to increase the stat's minimum wage, which has been $7.50 an hour since 2009. Some lawmakers want automatic cost-of-living increases in the wage rate.


Backdrop: The current state budget is $5.9 billion, and revenues are expected to reach nearly $6.2 billion in the fiscal year starting in July. That provides about $239 million in "new money" for lawmakers and the governor for budget increases and to offset tax cuts. The state has cash reserves of more than $500 million, but that could shrink because of accounting discrepancies stretching back more than six years.

Proposals: Martinez has recommended a 3 percent budget increase compared with about 4 percent proposed by the Legislative Finance Committee. Martinez proposes targeted increases for hard-to-fill jobs such as state police. But the legislative panel advocates across-the-board raises for all state agency workers and educators, with higher amounts for those in certain jobs, including judges, state police and social workers.


Backdrop: About $600 million in bond financing is available for capital improvement projects. Some of that goes for specific purposes, including public schools and projects on tribal lands. However, much of the financing will be divvied up for new projects. 

Proposals: Martinez proposes earmarking about $112 million in bond proceeds for water projects across the state. The governor also recommends creatinga  new fund that can provide emergency assistance to communities with drinking water problems. The Legislative Finance Committee has recommended $10 million in bond financing for highway maintenance and $6 million for a road to the state's spaceport.


Backdrop: Public schools, colleges and universities get nearly $3 out of every $5 in the operating budget. The high school graduation rate was 70 percent in the last school year, and nearly half of graduates enrolling in state colleges in 2011 and 2012 required remedial courses.

Proposals: Martinez will renew a proposal to require schools to hold back third-graders who can't read proficiently. Some Democrats and a coalition of social advocacy groups want to earmark part of the yearly payout from a state permanent fund to provide more money for early-childhood education. Lawmakers also will consider ways to shore up a lottery-financed college scholarship program. Some proposals would change the program to make the aid need-based and provide a flat dollar amount for scholarships. 

The Associated Press

Session dates - 2014

• December 16, 2013 - January 17 Legislation may be prefiled

• January 21 Opening day (noon)

• February 5 Deadline for introduction

• February 20 Session ends (noon)

• March 12 Legislation not acted upon by governor is pocket vetoed

• May 21 Effective date of legislation not a general appropriation bill or a bill carrying an emergency clause or other specified date

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